Love shouldn’t hurt

The Importance of a Support System
by Teresia Smith

The power of the human spirit after experiencing adversity is amazing. Many people experience some type of trauma during their life. How do people deal with these difficult events that change their lives? Do they live the rest of their life as a victim or can they rebuild and overcome and be a resilient survivor? Trauma such as the death of a loved one, loss of a job, a serious illness, domestic violence attacks and being sexually assaulted: these are all examples of very challenging life experiences. Most people react to such experiences with a flood of strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty. Yet some people seem to have an easier time moving forward, healing and creating a new life. What enables them to do so? For most, it involves resilience.

Some attributes of resilient people are that they tend to cope more easily with hardships and they have developed skills to control their anxiety and turn it into a productive strength. “Resilient people tend to be optimistic, energetic, and curious, open to new experiences; show high positive emotionality; and elicit positive emotions through humor and relaxation. These characteristics are similar to those that define mental toughness. Some argue that resilient individuals maintain a relatively stable level of functioning with only transient experiences of distress after trauma (Bonnano, 2004).” Resilient people tend to have a higher self-confidence and use positive self-talk to encourage themselves. Resilient people usually have a good outlook on their future and they set goals and imagine themselves accomplishing their goals. However, the biggest characteristic resilient people have that help them to develop all those positive attributes is that they have a healthy support network. Having a strong support network allows a survivor to not only survive their trauma but also thrive afterwards.

Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned by anyone. Having a strong support network allows a survivor to work to build resiliency. Having people you trust to share your feelings and thoughts with allows a survivor to cope with their feelings. Having that safe support allows them to move toward accepting that the traumatic event happened and they had no control over it but now they can focus their energy on what they can control.

Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Helping others in their time of need also can benefit the person struggling with their own trauma. Sometimes a survivor may not have a close family member or friend they can talk to and that is where we can help.

If you or a loved one has experienced domestic violence or sexual assault, support services are available to you. Crisis Services of North Alabama is a safe place for you to work through your trauma. We offer confidential crisis counseling and a safe support system. You may call our local office at 256.574.5826 for an appointment with an advocate. We also offer a 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000 where you can talk to someone and get information. You are not alone. We can help.

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